American man returns stolen Greek antiquities inherited from grandmother

ancient plates

An American man has reportedly returned Greek and Cypriot antiquities he had inherited from his grandmother after reading a Guardian article about looted antiquities.

According to The Guardian, Washington resident John Gomperts 'realised that the ancient pieces worth up to £80,000 – including two 7th- and 8th-century Cypriot vases – that he had inherited from his grandmother could have come from illicit excavations because they have no collecting history.'

'He wanted to do the right thing legally and ethically by returning the items to Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Pakistan respectively. After an agreement with his two siblings, he has returned them.'

“It seemed like the right thing to do … I read stories on repatriation, and I thought: we have these pieces that are 2,500 years old from other countries; we should explore whether we can give them back.” said John Gomperts.

With no idea how to repatriate antiquities, Gomperts was initially concerned he could have trouble with the for possession of potentially looted artefacts.

'In those Guardian reports, he noticed that Prof Christos Tsirogiannis, a former senior field archaeologist at the University of Cambridge and a specialist in antiquities and trafficking networks, had been quoted, and so he reached out to him for advice.

'Based in Cambridge, Tsirogiannis is the head of illicit antiquities trafficking research at the Ionian University in Corfu, Greece. Over 15 years, he has identified more than 1,600 looted artefacts within auction houses, commercial galleries, private collections and museums, alerting police authorities and governments and playing a significant role in repatriating antiquities.'